U.S. President George W. Bush declared earlier this week that Washington was willing to join European talks with Iran if Tehran suspended its uranium enrichment program.
While some hailed it "a major policy shift" and a rare chance for Iran to accept an American offer, how much real effect the U.S. offer will have on Iran's nuclear crisis remains unclear.
The U.S. offer to have conditional talks was immediately rejected by Tehran, which holds that "negotiations without any precondition would be the best solution to end the Tehran-Washington logjam," according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also stressed that the United States must give up its precondition if it really wanted to join the negotiations.
Analysts said that the U.S. preconditions were far from what the Iranian authorities could accept. The core of Washington's proposal is to stop Iran's uranium enrichment but Tehran has never been ready for a suspension.
With Iran's rejection to the offer, the ongoing argument over whether the preconditions should be imposed has cast a shadow over the prospect of a possible resumption of multilateral talks over Iran's nuclear crisis.
Meanwhile, political analysts have said that the U.S. offer of conditional talks has hardly changed the fundamental American policy toward Iran.
Some even noted that to force Iran to give up its suspected nuclear program was only part of the U.S. goal. Following the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the issue of Iran quickly became one of the top concerns for the United States in the Middle East, they said.
The United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution when angry students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and held 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
Washington has since been sparing no effort to impose political and economic sanctions against Iran, warning time and again that the possibility of military action remained
The analysts said that Washington's offer to join the EU talks with Tehran conditionally could be a tactical policy adjustment and an alteration made under the international pressure calling for face-to-face talks between Washington and Tehran.
They pointed out that if Iran agrees to the conditions, the United States will join its European allies in forcing Tehran to give up its nuclear program completely. But if Iran does not give in, sanctions will be an option.
"If they (Iranian authorities) continue to say to the world, 'We really don't care what your opinion is,' then the world is going to act in concert," President Bush has warned.